When you enter a Japanese house, there's a good chance that you won't find a bed in the bedroom. For centuries, the Japanese have maintained a distinct, minimalist approach to sleeping, a sleep system that differs greatly from the world at large.
Evidence of Japanese people sleeping on the floor dates back to the 10th century when hemp mats were placed on the hard floors for purposes of sleeping. While materials have evolved significantly since then, this history serves as a solid basis for the kind of bedding seen in Japan today.
While this typical sleeping method is prevalent in Japan, it's becoming commonplace for people worldwide looking for a precious sleep moment and a more minimalist lifestyle. But why do the Japanese sleep on the floors with futon mattresses?
There are numerous reasons why Japanese people sleep on the floor with futon mattresses. This includes space-saving, tradition, and adapting to the season, among other things. Read on for more!
Why Do Japanese Sleep on the Floors?
As mentioned earlier, there are various practical reasons for Japanese sleeping on the floor, one being saving floor space. Find out more below:
Respecting tradition in Japan is extremely important. And though they're among the most rapid technological innovators, they hardly overlook their roots. Sleeping on the floor has been a proud cultural tradition for many generations in Japan, which has evolved into modern times and is unlikely to change anytime soon.
Given the dense population in Japan, it's no surprise that space is at a premium, particularly in large cities. For this reason, the Japanese sleep on the floor to save space so it can be used for other purposes. When not in use, floor mattresses can be stored away to provide room for guests or for studying and relaxing.
It's also worth noting that co-sleeping is common in Japan, whereby children sleep in the same room as their guardians. In this case, the futon arrangement delivers safety benefits because it allows ample space between individuals, preventing overheating. Additionally, the Japanese are susceptible to earthquakes, so having a heavy bed frame might injure those in the room or block exits from evacuation.
- Adapting to the season
Unlike the western tradition, where you sleep on one bed the whole year, the Japanese have both summer and winter futons. In the summer, you can opt for a lighter, more breathable mattress to help the body heat dissipate. During winter, the opposite is true: a more insulating futon mattress will keep you warm through the winter nights.
- It's cooler
Everybody understands that heat rises; however, we rarely think about what transpires below it. Generally, the lower you are in your room, the cooler the air. So, from this line of thought, it's clear that sleeping in close proximity to the floor is a sure way to stay cool on a sweaty summer night in Japan.
- It's cheaper
Any new homeowner will lament the high price of a new bed. When you add the ludicrously priced mattress to the bed frame, you're likely to spend more than $1,000. The same doesn't hold for futon mattresses as they're reasonably priced, barely breaking the bank. It's no surprise that people own multiple types to adapt to different seasons.
Now that you know why the Japanese sleep on floors, let's uncover the benefits of this Japanese tradition.
First, sleeping on a floor futon mattress or tatami pad allows air to flow freely, a benefit you can count on during summer. For this reason, the floor mattresses outshine their thick, raised counterparts notorious for retaining heat, causing sweaty summer nights.
Secondly, most experts agree that sleeping on the floor with a futon mattress is good for your spine. That's because the futon mattress allows your spine to take a more neutral position, relieving back pain.
What is the Japanese Bed Structure?
The Japanese bed structure is more straightforward than many people imagine. It comprises the tatami mat, shikifuton, kakefuton, and buckwheat hull pillows. Here is a breakdown of each component:
- The Tatami mat
The tatami mat is the very foundation of the Japanese bed structure. It is a firm rush grass mat, traditionally used as flooring in Japanese homes, but nowadays, they're used for sleeping in designated tatami rooms. Tatami mats are designed to lay directly on the floor, providing a base for your shikifuton that enhances air circulation.
You can roll up your tatami mats when not in use to create space for other uses, especially if you don't have a designated tatami room. Besides making the floor more comfortable for a good night's sleep, these mats provide a breathability and moisture barrier between your futon mattress and the floor.
- The Shikifuton
Shikifutons are still highly fancied in Japan because they're made of natural materials, so you can sleep comfortably knowing your mattress is not compromising your health. They are the second component of the Japanese bed structure. When it's bedtime, roll out the shikifuton over your tatami, then store it away during the day when not in use.
This allows you to use your sleeping area for other purposes and also for the shikifuton to air out, preventing mildew from thriving.
- The Kakefuton
The kakefuton, also called the kakebuton, is a traditional Japanese duvet. It's usually filled with silk fibers, which aid in retaining and spreading heat evenly. The best part is they are hypo-allergenic and also uninhabitable to dust mites. In most cases, kakefutons are paired with kakefuton covers to make washing and maintenance a breeze.
- The Buckwheat Hull Pillows
The buckwheat hull pillow is the last component of the Japanese bed structure. They are made from an inner case, often filled with organic buckwheat hulls and an outer sleeve. The interior case features a hidden zipper, making it convenient to add or remove buckwheat hulls to adjust the pillow's firmness and comfort level.
The Best Japanese Futon Mattress
Sleeping soundly and on a comfortable surface is everyone's dream, and investing in a quality Japanese futon mattress is the best way to experience this. This mattress provides a soft and supportive surface, suitable for all sleeping positions.
But given the various designs that have flooded the market, what's the best Japanese futon mattress?
We recommend the MAXYOYO Japanese futon mattress for its unique features, including but not limited to comfort and support. The compact design confirms why this mattress is a go-to option for those who fancy minimalism. And since it's made of high-end materials, you can expect this mattress to last for more than ten years if properly maintained.
Unlike other mattresses that sink your spine into a curved position, encouraging back pain upon waking up, the MAXYOYO Japanese futon mattress does the opposite. It aligns your spine, so it's in a neutral position, eliminating the risk of back and joint pain. So why not try it out? Get yours today at an affordable price and enjoy the freedom to choose the color that complements your needs.